The forest is my true home. I have been living in it my entire life and when I was younger my uncle usually had to drag me back home to Tisbury when winter came. When the first signs of spring showed up I would be out here in the forest of gloom once again. There is something about the hunt that just gets my blood flowing that few other things can compare to. It feels good to be out here once again with a bow on my back and a spear in my hand. I must not forget myself though because the reason I am out here is not for pleasure but rather for love. The love that is the only other thing that sets my heart racing lights my mind on fire.
Brangwen. My beloved wife.
She has been ill these last few years. I thought it only womanly troubles but a faerie told me that she is sick because someone keeps hurting our cattle. My wife is a fervent devotee of Damona and the goddess has made her sick as a way to show her displeasure over the fact that the cows are being hurt.
And now my wife is with child again and I fear that bring it forth while one of the goddesses of motherhood is withholding her favour will get her killed.
That is the reason why I am out here in the woods instead of back home with the woman I love and enjoying long winter days spent in bed together. Brangwen says that I should not worry and that she is sure that both her and the baby will be fine. My worry won’t let me rest however.
I have been out in the forest for over a week. I have told no one exactly where I am going, only that I am of on a hunting trip. I am hoping that the miscreant behind these deeds will dare to come himself and try to perpetrate more nefarious deeds in my absence and that I will be able to catch him red-handed.
So far there have been no tracks indicating that any one is out here who shouldn’t be. I have been keeping watch on the paths leading to my pastures and I have watch a lot of the farms from a distance to spot if there are any strangers passing through. The one who is behind this have obviously been clever enough to avoid the patrols I have sent out to protect my livestock.
There is something about the woods this day however. I can usually read its mood or determine if any pray is nearby by just listening. Today there is a strange voice to it in the rustling of its leaves. I am not certain what it means but a sudden wind blows in from the west, from the depths of the forest and it feels like something is telling me which way to go. I set of in an easterly direction towards the Nader river south of my manor. When I reach one of the places where you can safely ford the river I notice that someone have recently passed through here. None of my own commoners have reason to pass here during winter and others in hillfort know better than to enter my lands from this direction. Some savage part of me wakes up, almost like there is a wolf living in my heart that wants to howl and set of in immediate pursuit and chase down the prey and tear it to pieces.
It’s getting dark, I will have to find the prey soon or start over tomorrow. I won’t tolerate another failure at finding him. I run on quiet feet, carefully avoiding stepping on dry branches and patches of frozen over puddles. The tracks lead north towards my south-eastern pasture.
Up ahead I glimpse a shape among the trees, someone doing their level best to stay hidden. They probably can’t see him in the dusk, he is wearing clothes that make him blend in but that doesn’t hide him from me. I sneak closer while he is approaching the cattle. I have a clear shot.
“Stand still or you will be shot”
He flinches and foolishly turns to run. I let lose my arrow and it strikes him in the thigh. No more running for him. He crumbles and a few moments later I am on top of him. He has drawn a dagger and he is trying to defend himself. It doesn’t do him any good. I wrestle the dagger out of his hand and hold it against his throat. Now I finally see his face. I do not know this man.
Panicked and in pain he sees my face and shout “You murdered my wife”.
I find myself confused. He can see the lack of comprehension on my face. “You should have gone after the bear that evening and my wife would still be alive you lazy egotistical bastards”.
I won’t have a commoner speak to me that way. I punch him in the face. His nose break and he screams. Maybe I would have felt compassion for the man if he came and asked for restitution. That ship sailed however when he decided to start poisoning my cattle and that way risked the life of my wife. I have caught the man red-handed trying to destroy my property. I could hang him here and now. I am tempted to do so and to make it slow. Justice must however be served. I knock him out and bandaged his wound. I will bring him to the hillfort court and he will be hung there. The law of the land say the thieves are hung. Few will know however how much this man almost stole from me. They will only know about the cows.